War resolution votes
Over the last five days, Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV) and our friends in Congress fought a pitched battle against a hasty and dangerous war resolution. Senator Byrd fought with every tool at his disposal, from an array of parliamentary tactics to his pocket copy of the Constitution.
Joined by Senators Kennedy (D-MA), Sarbanes (D-MD), Durbin (D-IL), and Boxer (D-CA) in outrage, he launched a furious filibuster, demanding that our elected representatives give this issue the lengthy and deep consideration it deserves.
In the House, Representatives Doggett (D-TX), Lee (D-CA), Kucinich (D-OH), and Pelosi (D-CA) took a stand against House Minority Leader Dick Gephardt (D-MO) and worked unstoppingly to deliver a defeat for the authorization of force. In doing so, they risked political retaliation from both within their party and outside of it, but they spoke out anyway.
Early yesterday afternoon, the House voted 296 to 133 in support of the President's resolution. Surprising nearly everyone, a significant majority of Democrats stood with Pelosi and Doggett in opposition to the resolution.
And around 1 in the morning last night, the Senate voted to support President Bush's proposal, 77 for to 23 against. Senator Byrd said, "I have fought the good fight. I might as well talk to the ocean."
For those of us who are worried about a war on Iraq -- worried what it will do to our country, our future, or our world -- this is a dark day. Our Congress has been stampeded into supporting a unilateral, pre-emptive war that could set the Middle East on fire and turn the world against us. In the immediate aftermath of this decision, it's easy to feel, like Senator Byrd, that we might as well have talked to the ocean.
But that is just plain wrong. This vote hurts, but without our work it would have been much worse.
Let us not undersestimate what we're up against. In the Bush Administration, we have a cadre of men hungry for war. Iraq has been on the agenda since President Bush and Vice President Cheney were on the campaign trail. When September 11th happened, the President immediately tried to link it to Saddam. No dice. When anthrax brought our capitol to a halt, the FBI was dispatched to find connections to Baghdad. Nothing surfaced.
The President has demonstrated that he is willing to use every Machiavellian trick in the book to force our country to war. He hasn't hesitated to use our national tragedy to push his agenda. He hasn't hesitated to play off the fear of Americans. He hasn't hesitated to take advantage of this election year to divide and conquer his opposition. When the President of the United States, a man with the loudest megaphone in the world, chooses to use such tactics, he is an extremely formidable opponent.
Make no mistake: the President did everything he could to make this vote a unanimous one. He failed. And the dissent in Congress will resonate throughout our country.
The New York Times today interviewed Representative Susan Davis (D-CA), from southern California: "Ms. Davis's San Diego district includes thousands of active and retired military personnel in the West Coast's largest Navy base, many of whom, she said, may not be happy with her decision to vote against the president's wishes. But having agonized over her decision until a few hours before the vote, she said she was persuaded by a large number of calls and e-mail messages from voters who were deeply uneasy about the prospect of a new war that could be fought with terrible weapons." That was us.
And when Senator Byrd was speaking out on the Senate floor, he knew we stood behind him. When Representative Pelosi spoke out against the House leadership, she knew that we were with her. Senator Paul Wellstone of Minnesota is in the political fight of his life against a candidate hand-picked by the White House to defeat him. But even though it could damage his re-election campaign, Senator Wellstone voiced his conscience. Our work helped to make that possible.
Our impact can be felt far beyond Washington, D.C. The American people are a lot smarter than politicians think, and support for this warmongering is paper thin. With each dissenter, with each dissenting vote we will gain the support of more of our fellow citizens. President Bush may now have the legal authority for a war, but thanks to the concern we've voiced in the media and in our representatives' offices, he does not have the mandate of his constituents.
This vote will not stand. We will keep fighting this thoughtless war in every way we can. We will fight it over the next weeks and the next months, in Washington and at home.
For now, though, we should take a moment to reflect on the hard work we've put in, on our successes and our failures. Remember: we're not talking to the ocean. We're turning the tide.
--Eli, Wes, Carrie, Joan, Peter, and Susan
Friday, October 11, 2002
P.S. The pressure we've put on Congress has been overwhelming. Over the last two months, we've met with Senators' offices in every state. We've mobilized a team of volunteer lobbyists who worked with over 400 Congressional offices. We've written over 3,600 letters to the editor on Iraq. And we've made, at the very least, a staggering 143,000 phone calls to Congress. With countless emails and a petition with over 200,000 signers, we've communicated a deep and broad concern to our elected representatives.
Here's what Senator Byrd had to say about the grassroots feedback he received:
"I have heard from tens of thousands of Americans – people from all across this country of ours – who have urged me to keep up the fight. I am only one Senator from a small state, yet in the past week I have received nearly 20,000 telephone calls and nearly 50,000 e-mails supporting my position.
I want all of those people across America who took the time to contact me to know how their words have heartened me and sustained me in my efforts to turn the tide of opinion in the Senate. They are my heroes, and I will never forget the remarkable courage and patriotism that reverberated in the fervor of their messages." (From http://byrd.senate.gov/byrd_newsroom/byrd_news_oct2002/rls_oct2002/rls_oct2002_3.html)
P.P.S. Below is a list of the Senators and Representatives who voted against a war on Iraq. If you feel like calling some of them to thank them for taking a stand, it will certainly be appreciated.
Senators who voted against the resolution:
Akaka (D) -- (202) 224-6361
Bingaman (D) -- (202) 224-5521
Boxer (D) -- (202) 224-3553
Byrd (D) -- (202) 224-3954
Chafee (R) -- (202) 224-2921
Conrad (D) -- (202) 224-2043
Corzine (D) -- (202) 224-4744
Dayton (D) -- (202) 224-3244
Durbin (D) -- (202) 224-2152
Feingold (D) -- (202) 224-5323
Graham (D) -- (202) 224-3041
Inouye (D) -- (202) 224-3934
Jeffords (I) -- (202) 224-5141
Kennedy (D) -- (202) 224-4543
Leahy (D) -- (202) 224-4242
Levin (D) -- (202) 224-6221
Mikulski (D) -- (202) 224-4654
Murray (D) -- (202) 224-2621
Reed (D) -- (202) 224-4642
Sarbanes (D) -- (202) 224-4524
Stabenow (D) -- (202) 224-4822
Wellstone (D) -- (202) 224-5641
Wyden (D) -- (202) 224-5244
A full roll call list for the Senate is available on our website at:
A full roll call for the House is available at:
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